Thursday, June 13, 2013
Up until now, I've been relatively pain-free and injury-free with my running. Aside from some sore muscles once in a while, I've never had to deal with common running problems like shin splints, blistering, muscle strain, etc. My husband couldn't believe how unfazed I seemed to be after the half marathon. We were surrounded by men bleeding through their shirts due to chafing, people sprawled on the Coney Island boardwalk while people stretched and massaged their locked up legs to get them working again, and lots of flush-faced finishers hobbling around every which way you looked. Yet there I was, bright-eyed and bushy tailed. My muscles were a bit stiff and stairs were pretty painful, but otherwise I felt great. That knee pain I experienced during mile ten seemed to have disappeared, too.
Flash forward to last weekend, and my 10k from hell.
This was my first 10k, and I was hoping to finish it in around 60 minutes. 58 minutes would have been ideal. I was off to a pretty good start, though the course was a bit tough - more hills than I was used to. In fact, I kept great pace until I hit mile five, and then my knee started to hurt. Nay, not "hurt." "Hurt" is what happened during the half marathon, but I was able to run through it after a bit of walking. My knee started to kill. I started walking and, much to my dismay, discovered that walking brought absolutely no relief. I had become one of those hobblers I'd seen after the half, but even worse, I was a hobbler during an actual race with a mile and change left to go. I thought "ok, maybe if I walk for two minutes, it'll get better, and maybe I can run through it." Two minutes in and I tried to slowly trot, but nope. It still killed.
Walking during a race is no fun, but walking the last mile of a race when people usually get that adrenaline rush and pick up speed, passing by while the crowd is cheering is even worse. Let me tell you, it feels pretty crummy to hear the crowd trying to encourage you by yelling "you're almost there! no time for walking! get going!" I was close to tears because I wanted to tell them "I'd like to run through it, but I can barely even walk right now." With probably .3 or .4 miles left, I forced myself to break into a bit of a run, and eventually I finished. It felt awful and I felt awful because I really didn't want to do slower than a 10 minute mile pace. I finished in 1:02:40, a 10:06 pace.
My time wasn't nearly as bad as my mind was building it up to be (I honestly thought I had crossed into 12 minute mile territory), but still, I was disappointed. Unfortunately, this week at work is the most stressful week I've ever had, and I'd been anticipating it for over a year and a half (long story short, my company's been preparing for a special evaluation that was scheduled to take place this week). I was looking forward to finishing the race and feeling a bit of stress release before the work week from hell begain. I was hoping to think "Yay! I did it! I'm ready for this week of work!" but I felt just the opposite. My feelings were more like "I hate everything and nothing is going to go right, this is a sign that we're all doomed." My knee felt terrible for the rest of the day. As a result, I did plenty of limping and plenty of RICE.
The next day, my knee wasn't so bad, and two days later the pain was pretty much gone. I've been too busy at work to even have time for light exercise, but I think that's for the best. Once the weekend comes I will be able to do some cross training and a light (very brief) jog. Next up, now that my stint of races are done (until my next half in October), I plan on easing myself in to trying barefoot/minimal shoe running. I'm aware that my pain probably comes from bad form, and I really need to shorten my strides. But I will do this eeeeever so slowly.
Slow and steady wins the race, I suppose.